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The Transformation Of Alberto Rosende From Childhood To Chicago Fire

Alberto Rosende has stirred up quite a reaction as "Chicago Fire"'s Blake Gallo. Blake has an extremely strong connection to his Firehouse 51 roots; orphaned by a blaze that also took the life of his little sister, Gallo was taken under the wing of the station's crew, which motivates him to become a member of the team. He has an ongoing rivalry with his Fire Academy classmate Violet Mikami (Hanako Greensmith). Violet and Blake had a fraught on-and-off frenemy relationship until she sets her sights on Evan Hawkins (Jimmy Nicholas), and Gallo began dating Cara, an associate who works at a food festival that might get some eyes on his microbrewery. Along with Darren Ritter (Daniel Kyri), Violet and Blake have also formed a microbrewery business, which they hope will pad their wallets as they continue to knock down fires and rescue the downtrodden. 

Fans might know a lot about Gallo, but they might not know a lot about Rosende. It turns out that the actor has quite an interesting past, and that he's survived a lot of hardship to get where he is now. Follow us as we trace his roots from childhood to "Chicago Fire."

Alberto Rosende survived cancer to become an actor

Per a 2019 interview with NBC 6 South Florida posted to their YouTube channel, Alberto Carlos Rosende is a native of Miami. Via One Chicago Center, he was born on February 14, 1993. Rosende's father is Major General Alberto C. Rosende, the Commanding General of the 63rd Readiness Division in California, per the U.S. Army Reserves official website. Rosende also has one brother, Diego, who works in film production.

Rosende told People CHICA that he became interested in acting when he was nine at the encouragement of his aunt Patty. The actor then attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale. He recalled playing soccer and football in high school while being a big part of their theater program. A review of his high school performance in "Harvey" published in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel in 2010 gave the actor early praise, stating that he captured the "vitality" of his part and adding that he "displayed great dramatic levels throughout the production, thus providing a sense of balance amongst the chaos." While in high school, per another interview with NBC 6, Rosende worked with the Fort Lauderdale Children's Theater and acted in a few of their shows, including "Hairspray."

Rosende has been very honest about the fact that he's a testicular cancer survivor. In an Instagram post marking the anniversary of his being declared cancer-free, he noted that he was diagnosed in April of 2013 when he was attending college at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Rosende said that the news "rocked my world and made me feel alone and scared," but praised his family and friends for supporting him. He was declared cancer-free on May 7, 2013 — just one week after his diagnosis.

Bit parts led to bigger roles

Rosende's acting career went into full swing in 2013, the same year as his cancer diagnosis. Ironically, his first IMDb credit is for a short film called "The Swing of Things," and he plays a swing dancer in the film. 

The actor quickly picked up parts in "Blue Bloods." In the CBS family police drama, he portrayed Carlos Santiago in Episode 10 of Season 5, "Sins of the Father." Rosende's Carlos is a young, cocky high school student whose father stands accused of hitting a girl with his car while drunk driving. But the truth might be much more complicated for the talented college football hopeful.

In "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," Rosende portrays Jordan Messina in Episode 10 of Season 17, "Catfishing Teacher." The episode is about Zach Foster (Ted Sutherland), a 15-year-old high school student who has been kidnapped by a teacher at his high school. The police suspect Phoebe Bernap (Kelli Barrett), who has already been accused of assaulting other students at multiple schools. Jordan is one of Phoebe's victims, and he later testifies against her.

The actor also appeared in the 2016 short "Jahar" and the 2020 horror film "Story Game." He also produced a segment for his brother's 2016 short documentary series "My American Identity Project."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Rosende broke through thanks to Shadowhunter

Alberto Rosende's career took off in 2016 when he landed a role in the supernatural teen drama "Shadowhunters." Rosende portrayed Simon Lewis on the Freeform show for all three seasons and was a series regular. He eventually appeared in 55 episodes of the program. Based on the Cassandra Clare series of fantasy novels for young adults (per TVLine), the book and show center around Clary Fairchild (Katherine McNamara), a Shadowhunter whose skills have been repressed. Shadowhunters are people who descended from angels who are destined to forever do battle with demons. Clary is gifted with multiple magical gifts, including the ability to see into realms beyond our own, and she must learn to use them all to find her mother, who has vanished. Clary soon falls in love with Jace Herondale (Dominic Sherwood), a fellow hunter.

Simon is a type of vampire called a Daylighter, which means his skin can be exposed to sunlight without causing him to immediately combust. He finds himself drawn into the battle between angels and demons in spite of his vampirism, as Clary is his best friend. He is musically gifted, and Rosende is called upon to perform multiple songs during the show's run (via YouTube). At the end of the show, he's forced to strike a terrible bargain to protect Clary and his other friends.

In a 2017 interview with InStyle, Rosende said he thinks Simon is a very "self-aware" vampire. "But he's also a terrible vampire—and he's only been one for like two weeks. So he brings a lot of comedy to the show, whereas I think a lot of vampires are these sexy, powerful men who have been alive for hundreds of years," he explained.

He has a lot in common with Gallo

Rosende apparently has a lot in common with his "Chicago Fire" character. When asked by NBC6 how he and Blake are the same, Rosende replied, "we're both extremely passionate about our craft. He's a very passionate firefighter, and he loves being there, he loves putting the uniform on and he loves all the little things too. Which I think is really cool, I feel the same way about acting and that craft." Mentioning that he has experience doing his own stunts thanks to an Old Spice commercial and "Shadowhunters," he added that he loves doing his own stunts and the "physicality" of acting on "Chicago Fire."

In his real life, Rosende is also passionate about literacy. He has a book club on Instagram called Rosendereads, in which fans of the actor can read along with the actor and participate in regular book club meetings with him over Instagram Live. Per Hello! Magazine, the actor has been engaged to his "Shadowhunters" co-star Tessa Mossey since December 2021.

Whatever parts may come in the future, Rosende told People CHICA in 2019 that he's in the acting game for life. "The goal for me is to work for the rest of my life. I would love to be that 100-year-old guy that dies on set," he kidded. And many "Chicago Fire" fans hope he'll be with them for a very long time.